A systematic review of the efficacy and pharmacological profile of Herba Epimedii in osteoporosis therapy

Pharmazie. 2013 Sep;68(9):713-22.


The purpose of this systematic review is to assess the efficacy and pharmacological profiles of Herba Epimedii in osteoporosis therapy. Four databases were extensively retrieved that include two Chinese electronic databases (VIP Information and CNKI) and two English electronic databases (CA and MEDLINE). Herba Epimedii has been an important traditional herbal medicine for centuries in China and other Asian countries. Recently, quite a few pharmacological effects of Herba Epimedii, its extracts and active components have been identified that include improving bone health and cardiovascular function, regulating hormone level, modulating immunological function, and inhibiting tumor growth. The anti-osteoporosis activity of Herba Epimedii and its extracts have attracted world-wide attention. The literature search has revealed that a lot of studies have recently been carried out related to the bone-strengthening activity of Herba Epimedii and some of its active compounds, such as total flavonoids and icariin. Pharmacokinetic and toxicity studies have confirmed the efficacy and safety of Herba Epimedii and its most abundant active component icariin, while only a few authors have reviewed the anti-osteoporosis properties of the plants. So we summarize the work of various investigators on the effects of Herba Epimedii, its extracts and active components against osteoporosis. The underlying mechanism of osteoprotective action, derivatives of icariin, animal models and cell lines used in the research were also reviewed in this paper.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Line
  • Databases, Factual
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Epimedium / chemistry*
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Flavonoids / chemistry
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Flavonoids
  • Plant Extracts
  • epimedii flavone
  • icariin